Mannion, Anthony and Johnson form the decisive breakaway © Michael Zagachin,

Johnson bridges to Mannion and Anthony to form the decisive breakaway © Michael Zagachin,

by Josh Liberles

The top 20 of the second annual Beverly Gran Prix Criterium reads like a who’s who of New England cyclocross. When reigning national cyclocross champion Tim Johnson bridged to Jesse Anthony and Gavin Mannion, a cyclocrossers’ sweep of the podium was all but guaranteed. Johnson, who helped to organize the event, and Anthony both call Beverly, Massachusetts home, and 19 year-old Mannion hails from Dedham, Mass.

As an added incentive to cyclocross racers, anyone who raced the Gran Prix of Gloucester cyclocross race in either 2008 or 2009 was eligible for a special Cyclocross Competition. The top-placed ’crosser in every criterium category received free entry to the 2010 Great Brewers Gran Prix of Gloucester in Stage Fort Park.

Cyclocross stalwart Mark McCormack gets in on the action too, following Anthony and Johnson © Michael Zagachin,

Cyclocross stalwart Mark McCormack gets in on the action too, following Anthony and Johnson © Michael Zagachin,

Mannion initiated the move off the front of the pack, and was soon joined by Anthony. The duo built a sizable lead over the chase group, which included Johnson. “I thought they [Mannion and Anthony] were gone. I didn’t think I was going to catch them,” Johnson told the Salem News. “We had a chaser group come out and we made up about half the ground. Then I went and made the jump alone. You use everyone you can to help out just a little bit.”

The three ’crossers lapped the field with 10 laps remaining. Johnson and Anthony promptly rode through the field and attacked off the front once again. Mannion got held up in traffic and would have to settle for third.

Anthony then started his sprint early, but Johnson held tough and came around him on the final corner to take the win – and the Massachusetts State Criterium Championship in the process. Mannion’s result was good enough to land him in the U23 state champion’s jersey.

In the Women’s race, it was Boston’s Bike Czar and former Olympian Nicole Freedman taking the win, just in front of last year’s victor Rebecca Wellons. A crash with just one and a half laps remaining split the field, narrowing the finishing sprint down to just seven contenders. Notable results by other ’crossers included Lyne Bessette taking fifth after doing a good deal of the work to bring back an early breakaway, Andrea Smith eighth, Mo Bruno Roy 9th and Kerry Litka 12th.

“I’m glad it went well,” Freedman told the Beverly Citizen. “The Wheelworks team is new this year, so to get a win for the team is great.”

Results of the GP Beverly Cyclocross competition:
Elite Men’s Race – Gavin Mannion
Women’s Race – Rebecca Wellons
Cat 4/5 Race – Colin Reuter
Photo Gallery:

Result Highlights, Elite Men:

1      1      Tim               Johnson   UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team    Beverly             MA       58:35
2      9      Jesse             Anthony   Kelly Benefit Strategies Pro Cycling Team     Beverly             MA       st
3      54     Gavin             Mannion   Trek-Livestrong Presented by RadioShack       Dedham              MA       at :20
4      91     Luke              Keough / Cannondale                      Sandwich            MA       1:17
6      6      Adam              Myerson   Team Mountain Khakis fueled by Jittery Joe's  Boston              MA       st
12     4      Mark              McCormack Team FUJI/Clif Bar                            Foxboro             MA       at one lap
13     95     Jake              Keough                                                  Sandwich            MA       st
14     22     Jon               Bruno     Team Ora p/b Independent Fabrication          Boston              MA       st
16     7      Jeremy            Powers    Jelly Belly Pro Cycling Team                                               st

Elite Women:

1      104    Nicole            Freedman  Wheelworks Racing                             Jamaica Plain       MA       37:38
2      101    Rebecca           Wellons   BMW Bianchi                                   Woburn              MA       st
5      102    Lyne              Bessette  Independent                                   Beverly             MA       st
8      118    Andrea            Smith     LadiesFirst Racing                            Somerville          MA       st
9      106    Maureen           Bruno Roy MM Racing                                     Arlington           MA       st
12     111    Kerry             Litka     FxD Coaching                                  Nashua              NH       st